Mike's Minute: Govt's wellbeing budget a looming disaster


So as part of the Prime Minister's ongoing dream of living in a land of lollipops, landholding and general kumbaya, we have the mechanism used by the Treasury to put a monetary value on everything, despite the common-sense fact you can't put a monetary value on everything.

That's why they have sayings like "money can't buy experience", or that was "priceless". According to the Treasury, none of that's possible

This is, of course, for the so-called "wellbeing budget"

It is an idealist's fantasy, it's the workings of hand wringers who need to be consoled by the concept that as a result of any given action someone bursts into a smile, or song, or both

But to do that, given you are actually handing out money, and money is real, and the outcome might not be tangible,you need to make the intangible tangible

And that's what the spreadsheet does. It doesn't need to be a spreadsheet, it could have been a dartboard. What's a life worth? Double 20? What's making a friend worth? Triple 12? That's how stupid it is

They've valued a life at $4.7 million. Now the key to this is that you're dealing with about 4.7 million lives, that's roughly the population of the country. So you can immediately see if you get the number wrong to start with, it very quickly gets hopelessly and expensively out of control. Say a life was $4.6m, not $4.7m. That's $100,000 a person times 4.7m, and that's a lot of money.

And that's before, of course, you get to the simple reality that a life isn't worth $4.7m, it's worth whatever you want it to be

And even if we agreed this was a sensible way to measure anything, the $4.7m would merely be an average. I would value my life well beyond $4.7m, and averages aren't individual and because they're not individual, they don't directly affect you and I the way it should. It's like the mad debate around the gender pay gap, it's all done on averages. And averages don't reflect your individual set of circumstances, your reality, your wellbeing

If you value your life at $27m, then you're missing out. And that's before you get to the argument as to why the Government's estimate of your life is more valuable than yours, and who knows your life better than you?

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